On June 2, 2020, the African Union released a press release after the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) convened a virtual consultation.
The consultation was held to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on women in Africa, share their knowledge and undertakings to feed into scenario planning and orient responses at policy and action levels, now and in the recovery period
Key points include:
- The meeting brought together women sitting and former Heads of State and Government; ministers; the African Union (AU); United Nations (UN); development partners and civil societies; and the youth
- The meeting noted that the pandemic is aggravating poverty, inequalities and gender-based violence (GBV), while increasing vulnerability by impeding on people’s access to employment, food and other resources with particular effects on women and girls.
- H.E. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, former president of the Republic of Liberia and the AWLN patron, underscored the critical role of women empowerment, reflecting on how the inclusion of women in leadership positions have enabled the dismantling of the silo mentality that hinders sustainable development on the continent.
- Speaking on behalf of the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, Deputy Chairperson Amb. Kwesi Quartey restated the commitment of the Union to protect and promote the rights of women adding that Agenda 2063 can only be realized with the full and meaningful inclusion of women and girls.
- In a statement on behalf of the UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU, Hannah Tetteh, highlighted the concerns of the exploitation of the pandemic by oppressive regimes, to violate human rights and called on the authorities to protect the citizenry and especially women and girls who bear the heaviest brunt of such violations.
- Other consequences include the digital divide that have dire effects on education, potential of trafficking, child marriage, forced prostitution and sexual exploitation as quarantine and other social distancing measures impact economic and livelihood activities, as well as impede the delivery of basic humanitarian services.
- The consultations discussed at lengths opportunities for scaling up of actions on gender equality and women’s empowerment and other key issues such as actions to address the projected rise in poverty levels, food security and supporting women in agriculture and agri-business; supporting frontline healthcare workers; securing the rights of women in governance and leadership with the 17 outstanding elections in 2020; addressing threats of abuse on online platforms and perpetuation of fake news; enhancing the role and inclusion of women in domestic and regional trade; young women’s leadership and measures to address and protect women and girls against sexual and gender based violence among other key issues.
Read the full press release here.